On November 1979, when 66 Americans were taken hostage in Iran, Jimmy Carter confronted a difficult decision. From the first days of the crisis he rejected all military options. He chose Secretary of State Cyrus Vance's plan to use diplomatic pressure and patient negotiation. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and others urged him to take tougher action.
Carter biographer Douglas Brinkley sees it as a moral issue for Carter. "You see the moralism of Carter, the Christianity affecting his foreign policy making... His belief in each human life having a great sanctity to it."
But it was more than a moral question. On the eve of a failed rescue mission, Carter told Vance, "my greatest fear all along is that this crisis could lead us into direct confrontation with the Soviets."
"It is hard to remember that it was the Cold War. The possibility of a superpower confrontation in and about Iran had always been there. And now, under these circumstances, it was much higher," Jody Powell says. Historian Roger Wilkins says, "it was the first time that the United States really was demonstrated to be vulnerable to the kinds of people that [Osama] bin Laden ultimately became."
Do you think Carter should have launched a military attack against Iran during the hostage crisis?
Yes (Blue): 45%
No (Pink): 54%
Total number of poll participants: 1919
Of the participants polled, 839 watched at least half of the film; of those, 332 said the film influenced their vote.
Franklin Roosevelt restored hope after the Great Depression and led the nation during World War II. Part of the award-winning Presidents collection.
George Eastman introduced the Kodak and Brownie camera systems and transformed photography into something anybody could do.
Politics, culture, race relations, and technology in a year of change.
After notorious revolutionary leader Pancho Villa's raid on Columbus, New Mexico, General John Pershing and his 150,000 man cavalry set out to get Villa.
The first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, Earhart disappeared in 1937 during an attempt to circumnavigate the world by airplane.
The remarkable and tragic life of the third Kennedy son, Robert F. Kennedy.
A look at the poor Scottish emigrant boy who built a fortune in telegraphy, railroads and steel, and then began systematically to give it all away.
Accounting for America's most famous inventor and his role in America's future.